What you can expect in a Dental Assistant Job
A role as a dental assistant is a great choice if you want steady work and a clean, professional working environment.
Dental assistant roles are very highly sought after among school leavers and talented young people looking for a position that requires skill and pays relatively well.
What is a Dental Assistant?
A Dental Assistant can work with a range of dental professionals. A Dental Assistant might work with Dentists, Dental Hygienists, Dental Prosthetists, Dental Specialists and Oral Health Specialists. Basically, any trained professional working in dentistry may have a need for a Dental Assistant during their daily work.
Dental Assistants help with dental procedures and often fill a similar role to that of a nurse. In addition, they may also perform the role of an administrative assistant or an office administrator. They often have the most diverse role in a dentistry practice, and really need to stay on their toes.
As a Dental Assistant, you’ll need a range of skills. These include good manual dexterity in order to assist the dentist directly, great communication skills to help serve patients, awesome multitasking abilities and organisational skills, as well as the ability to be a team player and get along with others.
What do Dental Assistants Do?
Dental Assistants perform a huge range of daily tasks:
- You’ll be involved in each patient’s journey from the moment they pick up the phone to the moment they leave the practice. In fact, sometimes you’ll be involved before they even pick up the phone.
- Dental Assistants are often the first point of contact for new patients, and thus need to be highly qualified in customer service and customer engagement. You’ll welcome patients and prepare them for dental procedures. This might involve getting their details and medical history, as well as advising them on specific things they need to do to prepare for particular procedures.
- You’ll be handling phone enquiries and scheduling appointments. In some practices, you may also have to triage dental emergencies – which can be both stressful and exciting.
- When a Dentist has an appointment coming up, you’ll need to prepare the materials and equipment they’ll require for that particular procedure. During the procedure itself, you may have to assist the Dentist by passing items to them and the patient.
- You’ll be responsible for the operation and maintenance of some very highly technical equipment, including digital imaging machines. You’ll also have the opportunity to process dental radiographs (x-rays) and take care of a range of infection control protocols and cross-contamination procedures.
- The role of Dental Assistant is one of the broadest out there. Not only do you need to manage administrative duties such as payments and scheduling, you also need to operate technical equipment, care for patients and prevent biological contamination – some pretty serious responsibilities!
Where can a Dental Assistant Work?
Getting Dental Assistant qualifications, such as a HLT35015 Certificate III in Dental Assisting, can open the doors to a huge range of job opportunities. Private practice is a common route for Dental Assistants. There are plenty of Dentists out there who seek to open their own small practice – and they all require skills of competent Dental Assistants in order to be successful in their business.
Public health services that operate dental clinics in hospitals, schools and in the community are always on the lookout for new Dental Assistants. There is almost always fairly significant demand for qualified Dental Assistants – particularly as populations keep growing.
Other government organisations, such as correctional services, the defence forces and aged care often require qualified Dental Assistants to work in their surgeries. If you like travelling, there are also a number of mobile dental clinics that do the rounds around outback Australia servicing rural clients who can’t get access to a physical dentistry clinic.
There are also specialist practices, such as oral health therapists and oral hygienists. To get the better roles in these businesses, you’ll probably need better qualifications, such as a HLT45015 Certificate IV in Dental Assisting – Oral Health Promotion Specialisation.
Additionally, qualified Dental Assistants are well-regarded outside of the industry. The broad range of responsibilities and skills required illustrate that you’re ready for just about any other job.
How to become a Dental Assistant?
In Australia, there is no legislated requirement for formal qualifications in order to become a Dental Assistant. However, the job market can be highly competitive as this is a very popular role. If you want to be the best at what you do and stand out during a job search, you will need the right degree.
Here are some of the Dental Assistant qualifications you can obtain through Foundation Education:
Requirements to Work as a Dental Assistant
Most practices will require that you get vaccinated for a number of diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Tetanus and standard childhood vaccinations such as measles, mumps, and polio.
You may also need to complete a criminal history check – although this isn’t always required. There’s a good chance that you’ll have to take an influenza vaccination everywhere, as you’ll be in close proximity to patient mouths where the chance of the flu virus spreading is increased.
Dental Assistant Salary & Entitlements
A Dental Assistant’s salary varies greatly depending on location, hiring company and your own qualifications. If you want to enter the higher tier of a Dental Assistant wage, you absolutely need to ensure you have the best possible qualifications.
When you’re applying for a Dental Assistant role, make sure you understand whether it’s part time, full time or casual, and whether you’ll be paid hourly or paid a salary. Also get a good idea of the review procedures so you know whether there’s a chance of a salary increase after a year or two in the role.
Dental Assistant roles are incredibly popular. They can lead to a great career that can take you to some interesting places and allow you to work in a very professional setting without spending nine years at university. If it sounds right for you, get in touch today and we can chat about your qualifications.
Looking to kick-start your career as a Dental Assistant? Our range of Dental Assisting courses would be perfect for you! Enquire Now and speak to one of our career advisors for more information.
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